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FULL TIME: East Bengal had the lions share of possession in the second half and turned up the pressure right from the get-go in the second half. Yusa shockingly missed a penalty early in the half, but Khalid Jamil’s men kept on attacking and scored two great goals through Justin and Brandon. Minerva will be kicking themselves for not finishing off those late counter-attacks, but will be happy with the point which takes them to 26 points, 6 points off Bengal having played a game less. They’re also 5 points over Neroca, who have to win against Churchill later tonight! This is Uttiyo Sarkar logging off from the Barasat Stadium, have a good-day folks!
90+5 Altamash hits the free-kick and goes close, hitting the side-netting to end the match. Minerva will be frustrated to have lost ther lead, but will be satisfied with getting a point in this virtual title-decider.
90+4 Minerva almost get their winner! The Warrriors put all their energy into producing another amazing counter-attack which ends up finding Ambedkar in the end, but the substitute’s shot goes flying over the post! Punjab keep on attacking and get a free-kick just oustide the area!
90+3 SO CLOSE FOR BENGAL! Yusa delivers another great cross which falls to Ralte whose first shot is blocked, but his second shot hits the post and goes out. They get a corner off it!
90′ Katsumi Yusa gets another free-kick and delivers a good cross which is cleared away by Punjab, but only falls to Brandon whose shot is also blocked but finds Eduardo, whose poor shot is skied to over the post. 4 minutes of added time is announced.
89′ GOALLLL! EAST BENGAL GET THEIR EQUALIZER! Laldanmawia Ralte gets the ball in the right wing and goes past Devrani before putting a good cross into the far-post to Katsumi, who lays it off for Brandon who superbly finishes with his left-foot to bring the game level. We are in for quite the finish now!
87′ Altamash Sayed comes in for Souvik Das, who was booked earlier on. East Bengal players are really annoyed at Souvik for slowing walking to the sidelines and want to bring up the pace of the game.
85′ Minerva are just looking to gain some possesion and waste the remaining minutes of the half. It could be a vital 3 points for them, if they manage to get it after full-time. East Bengal only have Eduardo and Deepak Kumar in defense right now as everyone else has gone into attack.
82′ Lago Bei comes on for William Opoku who had to be taken off due to an injury. Meanwhile Kiran Limbu is also down for Punjab after taking a fall, but this is frustrating East Bengal players and fans alike who think Punjab are play-acting to waste time.
80′ William Opoku goes down for Minerva Punjab and has to be stretched off by the medical team. This does not look good for the league leaders as he’s been so important for them. Meanwhile Kromah shows a burst of energy as he marches into the box and is seemingly brought down, but the referee has a clear view on it and does not give another penalty.
77′ A substitution for Minerva Punjab as Chencho goes off for Abhishek Ambedkar. The Bhutanese Ronaldo goes off to a round of applause from the East Bengal fans for his amazing performance where he could’ve scored another winner for Minerva. Also, Brandon Vanlalremdika comes in for Lobo for Bengal.
75′ A bit of sloppiness from both sides here. Firstly, Eric Dano brilliantly steals the box from Dudu and stars a counter-attack for Punjab, with the ball falling to Chencho who is robbed by Ferreira. The East Bengal defender also goes forward with the ball but plays a poor pass which finds a Minerva player, whose pass forward is also an indecisive one which can only find an East Bengal player.
72′ East Bengal seem to have lost some stem from earlier on the second half. Minerva have withered the storm and lowered the tempo for the meanwhile and look persistent on getting that third goal and finishing off the game. They almost do so when Aidara gets some space in the box, but is judged offside by the referee.
69′ Yellow Card For Souvik Das for a silly challenge, but Bengal can’t really create anything good from the set-piece which they receive. Punjab almost go through on goal on the counter as Opoku makes a pass to Chencho who was almost one-on-one with Ferreira, but the ball is cleared away by the defender.
67′ East Bengal are really pressurizing the Warriors from the wings now. Katsumi seems to have moved back to the left and keeps play going as the ball finds its way to Jobby, who delivers a good cross which finds Dudu but is cleared away by Punjab. They are soaking up the pressure pretty well so far, but till how many time can they continue this onslaught?
64′ Minerva Punjab are feeling the heat off these crosses. Katsumi Yusa finds some space and delivers a venomous ball into the box, which almost falls for Dudu but is cleared away by Devrani. Katsumi again gets the ball later on, but his attempt is blocked off for a corner.
61′ The fans have found back their voice after that goal. East Bengal seem to have found their ingredient to rock this Minerva Punjab side and are more intent on delivering crosses into the box to make things difficult for Punjab.
59′ GOALLL!! EAST BENGAL PULL ONE BACK. It comes from a set-piece as Katsumi somewhat makes up for his missed penalty. He delivers a really good corner which is brillinalty found by Jobby Justin, who gets off his marker and hits a brilliant header which glides into the goal. Game on!
57′ East Bengal are piling men forward in an attempt to score. Katsumi has moved into a more central role to help with the creativity, while Ralte is making a lot of good movements to make it difficult for Punjab’s defense.
55′ The fans seem to have lost all hope after that penalty miss here at the Barasat. The entire ground is absolutely silent and is not helping East Bengal, who are struggling to mount proper attacking moves.
52′ A beautiful counter-attack from Minerva almost ends with another goal for Punjab. Opoku is the one starting it as he runs forward and passes to Gagandeep, who turns very well and finds out Chencho on the left flank. He sweetly glides into the box and tricks a defender before taking the shot, which is parried away for a corner by Ubaid. Brilliant movement from the Punjab front-three.
50′ KIRAN LIMBU SAVES IT! Katsumi Yusa was the one who took the penalty but his penalty was poor, as Kiran tracked it really well and dived superbly to his right to parry away the penalty and keep Bengal from getting one back!
49′ PENALTY FOR EAST BENGAL! Ralte shows some good feet in the box and is brought down by a MInerva player, as the referee finally points to the spot and give Bengal a penalty.
46′ And we’re underway in the second half. Minerva seem to be a bit cautious and with a more defensive layout this half, but Bengal look hungry for a goal. Jobby Justin gets some space on the right-flank and delivers a good ball in which is collected by Limbu.
HALF-TIME ANALYSIS: It’s been a roller-coaster of a half at the Barasat Stadium so far! East Bengal tried to penetrate through the right-wing, but failed to break down Deepak Devrani or Eric Dano. It was Bengal’s poor defensive work which helped Punjab get two goals in this half, with Chencho’s sweet finish seemingly killing off the game in the first half itself. Khalid Jamil will have reasons to protest as his side was denied a clear penalty and have looked much better after Kromah coming on, after which they’ve moved to a 3-man defense. Can East Bengal complete a miraculous come-back in the 2nd half? Well, stay tuned to see!
45+1 East Bengal are making it really difficult for Kiran Limbu! The Nepalese goalkeeper is tested on two ocassions by Bengal but parried away the ball pretty well. But Katsumi somehow manages to find the ball into the box and is brought down by a defender, but the referee denies them a quite clear penalty and gives Punjab a free-kick to end an entertaining half of football.
45′ CHANCE FOR EAST BENGAL! Kromah shows some good energy and sparks up East Bengal’s midfield and passes to Lobo, who delivers in a good cross into the box which falls to Dudu. The striker manages to take a shot from a difficult position which is saved well by Limbu and is parried away for a corner. One minute of added time.
44′ Laldanmawia Ralte tries to create something for East Bengal as he shoves off some pressure from Punjab and delivers a dangerous cross into the box, but nobody is there to head it in as Limbu collects it comfortably.
42′ It’s almost too easy for the in-form Chencho today. He’s toying with the East Bengal defense and links with Opoku to earn another free-kick for Punjab. Meanwhile, East Bengal make a change as Kromah comes in for Mehtab Singh.
40′ Amandeep Singh goes down writhing in pain after taking a blow in the ankle. He looks like he’s going to be okay, as Minerva Punjab take this time to cool off. Meanwhile, Ansumana Kromah is warming up for Bengal and might make his debut in the 2nd half.
37′ It doesn’t look so good for East Bengal right now, who look to be in absolute shambles right now. Jobby Justin shows some energy in attack and takes a shot on goal, but it is blocked by the Punjab defense. Minerva are smelling blood and are playing more attacking football despite being in this comfortable position.
34′ East Bengal look rocked right now. Minerva almost threaten to get another one after scoring as Opoku gets past Mehtab and threatens to put in a cross, which is sent for a corner. Bengal don’t look comfortable defending the corner and somehow manage to parry it out of danger.
32′ GOALLLL!!! IT”S CHENCHO FOR MINERVA PUNJAB! It’s a case of terrible defending from East Bengal, as Minerva make some dangerous movement outside East Bengal’s box. But the defenders scuffle their attemps at clearing and the ball falls to Chencho, who is through on goal and cooly finishes to score his 6th of the season.
28′ East Bengal continue moving through the right-side as Lobo finds Mehtab making a promising run into the box, but the defender is stopped by Eric Dano. Katsumi delivers a dangerous ball from the corresponding corner, but the referee blows the whistle as Limbu was fouled.
25′ Minerva almost double their lead! William Opoku makes a diagonal run from the leftwing and tries to play a through ball to Chencho which is stopped by Ferreira. But the ball ends up finding its way to Opoku who takes a shot from outside the box which goes flying over the post.
23′ East Bengal try to create an immediate response after going down. They receive another free-kick which is delivered in with a lot of intent, but is saved well by Kiran Limbu! Minerva Punjab now look more comfortable and are playing with a more defensive approach after getting exactly what they needed in th early lead.
20′ GOALLL!! Minerva Punjab take the lead! it’s a it of a scrappy goal as Minerva’s initial corner is cleared away, but Kamalpreet Singh delivers a great cross to Sukhdev Singh who was absolutely clear on goal. His first shot was saved by Ubaid, but he didn’t miss in his 2nd attempt and gives Minerva a crucial lead!
16′ Eduardo Ferreira seems to be in a bit of a bother after being hit in the mouth by something. He has to be taken to the sidelines to treat a cut, but comes backs in the field pretty quickly.
14′ East Bengal are looking dangerous from set-pieces. Katsumi delivers another inviting ball from a free-kick, which falls to Jobby Justin but the forward can’t glide it into goal.
11′ CLOSE For Minerva! Chencho steals the ball in midfield from Armand and makes a marauding run forward into East Bengal’s penalty area, before fooling their defenders and taking a left-foot shot outside the box which is deflected off a defender and almost creeps into goal before Ubaid C.K. somehow keeps it from going in.
8′ Chance for East Bengal! Katsumi Yusa plays a short corner to Bazie Armand, who plays makes a clever pass to Calvin Lobo free outside the box but the experienced midfielder’s shot goes just sailing over the bar. They came very close here!
6′ William Opoku comes alive in the game and strides forward with the ball, before laying a clever pass to Bali Gagandeep who is poor with his crossing. Kassim Aidara gets the ball in a promising area, but his shot is way off the mark.
4′ East Bengal seems to be more urgent in terms of getting the early lead. They are pressing high up and are trying to pile midfielders forward to pressurize Minerva’s defense, which looks solid till now.
2′ Minerva Punjab kicks-off the game! It instantly turns into a battle in center of midfield, as Dudu tries to bully his way into attack but is stopped by Minerva’s defense.
1:57 The players have come out to the pitch! They shake hands and pose for their photographers, while we also have a coin toss to determine which side kicks-off the game. We’re only minutes away from the game now folks!
1:55 It’s a do or die game for Khalid Jamil’s East Bengal, and they know how they need to win to stay alive in the title race. Minerva Punjab will be satisfied with a draw, but they know a win can give them one hand in the I-League title. A pleasant day here at the Barasat Stadium, but the battle in the pitch is going to be a heated one today!
1:50 East Bengal have made seven changes to their team which lost to Mohun Bagan last week, with Khalid Jamil missing the services of key midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna. He’s made a ton of changes at the back as he looks to stop Punjab from hitting them on the counter. The league leaders have themselves made two changes to the team which won against Neroca, with midfielder Souvik Das and defender Deepak Devrani coming into the team.
1:45 Here are the line-ups for today.
East Bengal XI: Ubaid C.K, Mehab, Salam Ranjan, Ferreira, Deepak. K, Ralte, Lobo(C), Armand, Katsumi, Dudu, Justin.
Minerva Punjab XI: Kiran Limbu, Kamalpreet, Sukhdev, Dano, Devrani, Amandeep, Aidara(C),Opoku, Souvik, Chencho, Gagandeep.
1:40 Just to remind you this is the first of two meetings set to take place between these two teamsin the league in a short span of time. So, there is a lot at stake for both the winners and losers. Can Khalid Jamil’ men pull off the win? Why not read our preview as we get set for kickoff.
1:35 What a massive game this is in the context of the title race. So, let’s set the scene. East Bengal are currently on 19 points from 11 games, six points off today’s visitors who are sitting pretty at the top of the table with a game in hand. So, for all intends and purposes this is a must win game for the Red and Gold who have had an inconsistent season to say the least.
1:30 pm: Hello and welcome to the I-League game between Eat Bengal and Minerva Punjab. This is your host Uttiyo Sarkar coming to you live from the Barasat Stadium here in Kolkata.